To distribute is to disperse widely, hand out, or spread around. While you're still snoozing, the paper boy is busy distributing the newspaper all over the neighborhood.

This verb was first recorded in the early 15th century and has its roots in the Latin distributus, meaning “to divide.” Think of dividing up the last cookies in the cookie jar and passing them out to all your friends. Distribute can also mean to space out or arrange in a particular order — you'd want to distribute the chairs in even lines across the floor when setting up for a concert, for example.

Definitions of distribute
  1. verb
    give to several people
    synonyms: give out, hand out, pass out
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    apportion, deal, divvy up, portion out, share
    give out as one's portion or share
    type of:
    gift, give, present
    give as a present; make a gift of
  2. verb
    cause to be distributed
    synonyms: circulate, pass around, pass on
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    send around
    forward to others
    put into circulation
    scatter, spread, spread out
    strew or distribute over an area
    circularise, circularize
    distribute circulars to
    manure, muck
    spread manure, as for fertilization
    birdlime, lime
    spread birdlime on branches to catch birds
    spread something around something
    type of:
    displace, move
    cause to move or shift into a new position or place, both in a concrete and in an abstract sense
  3. verb
    administer or bestow, as in small portions
    synonyms: administer, allot, deal, deal out, dish out, dispense, dole, dole out, lot, mete, mete out, parcel out, shell out
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    allot, assign, portion
    give out
    allot again
    distribute cards to the players in a game
    apply, give
    give or convey physically
    allow, appropriate, earmark, reserve, set aside
    give or assign a resource to a particular person or cause
    allocate, apportion
    distribute according to a plan or set apart for a special purpose
    deal cards wrongly
    apply (the tread) to a tire
    perform (a church sacrament) ritually
    type of:
    transfer possession of something concrete or abstract to somebody
  4. verb
    distribute or disperse widely
    synonyms: spread
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    collect, garner, gather, pull together
    assemble or get together
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    generalise, generalize
    become systemic and spread throughout the body
    metastasise, metastasize
    spread throughout the body
    pour forth or release
    disseminate, straw, strew
    spread by scattering
    cause to spread in another part of the world
    transmit or cause to broaden or spread
    to distribute systematically or strategically
    distribute anew
    sprawl, straggle
    go, come, or spread in a rambling or irregular way
    diffuse, fan out, spread, spread out
    move outward
    eject, force out, squeeze out, squirt
    cause to come out in a squirt
    disperse, dot, dust, scatter, sprinkle
    distribute loosely
    discharge or direct or be discharged or directed as if in a continuous stream
    discharge in, or as if in, a volley
    cover by strewing
    make a place messy by strewing garbage around
    deploy anew
    spread gradually
    grow or spread, often in such a way as to cover (a surface)
    bleed, run
    be diffused
    spread over a surface, like a mantle
  5. verb
    spread throughout a given area
    “the function distributes the values evenly”
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    type of:
    scatter, spread, spread out
    strew or distribute over an area
  6. verb
    cause to become widely known
    synonyms: broadcast, circularise, circularize, circulate, diffuse, disperse, disseminate, pass around, propagate, spread
    circulate, go around, spread
    become widely known and passed on
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    distribute (multimedia files) over the internet for playback on a mobile device or a personal computer
    introduce into an environment
    generalise, generalize, popularise, popularize, vulgarise, vulgarize
    cater to popular taste to make popular and present to the general public; bring into general or common use
    carry, run
    include as the content; broadcast or publicize
    type of:
    air, bare, publicise, publicize
    make public
  7. verb
    make available
    “The publisher wants to distribute the book in Asia”
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    issue, supply
    circulate or distribute or equip with
    distribute by a network, as of water or electricity
    free, release, unblock, unfreeze
    make (assets) available
    issue (a new version of)
    free, release
    make (information) available for publication
    type of:
    cause to change ownership
  8. verb
    arrange in a systematic order
    synonyms: stagger
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    type of:
    arrange, set up
    put into a proper or systematic order
  9. verb
    be mathematically distributive
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    type of:
    have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun)
  10. verb
    be distributed or spread, as in statistical analyses
    “Values distribute
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    type of:
    be, exist
    have an existence, be extant
Word Family

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